Let It Go among Our People: An Illustrated History of the English Bible from John Wyclif to the King James Version

Article excerpt

DAVID PRICE AND CHARLES C. RYRIE. Let It Go Among Our People: An Illustrated History of the English Bible from John Wyclif to the King James Version. Cambridge, England: Lutterworth Press, 2004. Pp. 160, preface, illustrations, bibliography, appendices, index. $60.00.

January 2004 marked the 400th anniversary of the Hampton Court Conference to produce a new Bible. It was here James I, Puritan leaders, and the English bishops met and began the process of developing a new translation of the Bible that would culminate seven years later in the publication of the King James or Authorized Bible. Though much admired and used, few people apart from scholars and a few clerics have any idea of the history of the English Bible translations that preceded the King James or Authorized Bible in particular.

David Price and Charles C. Ryrie's Let it Go Among Our People surveys the story of the birth of the English Bible from John Wyclif and his translation from the Latin Vulgate into the vernacular Middle English of his day, to the publication of the King James Bible. It is the story of how the Bible in English grew from a banned book to a translation sanctioned by the king. Price (associate professor of history, Southern Methodist University) and Ryrie (professor of theology, emeritus, Dallas Theological Seminary) are concerned with more than chronicling the history of the development of the English Bible; they also detail the evolution of the literary style of the English Bible and contextualize its development within the turbulent political history of the English Reformation.

It was illegal to translate the Word of God into the vernacular English for one hundred and twenty-seven years, and ignoring the ban meant death for many who were committed to the plowman's right, responsibility, and ability to read the Word of God. William Tyndale, the first to translate part of the Bible, the New Testament and some of the Old, from the original languages into English, died for this crime, as did others who produced English Bibles or even possessed or read them.

Price and Ryrie compare and contrast various versions of the English Bible, evaluating not only the literary and stylistic differences, but differences in look and organization. …